By Josephine Miles 1911–1985 Josephine Miles
When you swim in the surf off Seal Rocks, and your family
Sits in the sand
Eating potato salad, and the undertow   
Comes which takes you out away down
To loss of breath loss of play and the power of play
Holler, say
Help, help, help. Hello, they will say,   
Come back here for some potato salad.

It is then that a seventeen-year-old cub   
Cruising in a helicopter from Antigua,
A jackstraw expert speaking only Swedish   
And remote from this area as a camel, says   
Look down there, there is somebody drowning.
And it is you. You say, yes, yes,   
And he throws you a line.
This is what is called the brotherhood of man.

Josephine Miles, “Family” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1983 by Josephine Miles. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Illinois Press.

Source: Collected Poems 1930-83 (University of Illinois Press, 1983)


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Poet Josephine Miles 1911–1985


Subjects Family & Ancestors, Relationships, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse